Bob Hope would often take the stage with golf club in hand, using the wedge as both prop and security blanket. It seemed natural for him to be the host of a golf tournament.
Likewise, Hope's occasional partner-in-crime, Bing Crosby, was an ardent golfer, going one better than Hope by dying immediately after playing a round. It makes sense that he would hold a golf tournament. Even Frank Sinatra, who might have seemed more prone to bellying up to a martini bar in evening dress than hitting the links, spent years in the golf mecca of Palm Springs, Calif., and loved the game. He also was host of a golf tournament.
Now there's a new crooner with a tourney to call his own, Justin Timberlake.
Go ahead and let that NYSNC for a moment.
That's right, the teen pop sensation who, in recent years, has evolved into a pop-soul sensation, is lending his name to an annual PGA event to be held in Las Vegas. The event will take place in October, after the FedEx Cup, and will benefit Shriners children's hospitals. It will go by the mouthful moniker The Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
At first blush, this seems an odd, and perhaps ill-advised, marriage. After all, what can Mr. Timberlake, whose previous passions included a well-documented quest to bring the sexy back, offer the world of golf?
Sure, he might, like many musicians, be a fan of the game and the downtime it offers while on the road, but that doesn't exactly make him the appropriate poster child for fairways and greens, does it?
Well, actually it does.
Attaching Mr. Timberlake's name to a golf tournament accomplishes the same goals that associating tournaments with Hope, Crosby and Sinatra did years ago. When those events were proposed and approved, each entertainer was at the top of his game, the pinnacle of his career. They weren't nostalgia acts hoping to endear themselves to an aging fan base. They were hot -- sort of like Mr. Timberlake today.
Golf, like any sport or entertainment product, always needs to find ways to appeal to young audiences. The industry depends on having a constant stream of players entering the game as mortality steals others away. The Timberlake association is just the latest example.
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.